Monday, April 28, 2008

Webcomics : writing - wthcomics

Okay, before I start, this post isn't exactly about the most, ahem, mature of subjects. So fair warning, if your kid is reading over your shoulder, you probably do not want to have to explain this post to them...

Back when I first mentioned WTH Comics, I said this:
Wthcomics was also one of the few webcomics I've read that was funny from two different perspectives. Joshua continually referenced various anime shows and movies in almost every story arc. Most comics that do such references typically aren't that good unless you know the source material.
One of the recent comics serves to illustrate the point behind Joshua Jericho's writing skills. It's this one : The basis of the storyline have gone to a Dave and Busters. The previous comics have outlined some of the characteristics of the Dave and Busters franchise, so you have a good idea of what Dave and Busters is like. Then comes this comic. Joshua and Blaine are playing some sort of shooting game.

On first glance the comic's joke is a simple strippers pole joke. If you've been reading the comic story you probably have a good idea of what Dave and Busters is like, so for the most part, the joke is turning the place into a pole-dancing club.

Then... there is the artwork. The visual gag of Blaine holding two pistols while Joshua holds one. Avid gamers would automatically know that most arcade shooters of the type only have two weapons. So there's a joke in the number of pistols, and then an additional joke on the name of the game... Final Death 3. The visual gags continue with Joshua stopping to think in the second panel while Blaine blasts away, then the kicker in the 3rd panel when Joshua pans his eyes over the place and concludes that the only thing missing is a strippers pole. The visual gag is padded out by Blaine looking sorta stunned... as he's thinking something to the effect "that's not a bad idea."

The joke is further padded by the reference to Chuck E Cheese's, which is famous for it's tagline of Where a Kid can be a Kid. Others might known Chuck E. Cheese's as a Show Biz Pizza Parlor.

However, to get the main joke, you don't have to know about Dave and Busters. You don't have to know about Chuck E Cheeses. You don't have to care about what game is being played, or the gag in the number of pistols Blaine and Joshua are holding. On it's own, as a singular comic, there is a contained joke, then a joke built on by the continuity of the comic, and then the visual gags on top of that. So, for me, the comic is funny from several different viewpoints, whether or not you have direct knowledge of all the subjects involved.

And yes, I am directly missing knowledge on the direct subject of the joke itself... and there is no reason to introduce me to the joke's subject matter directly.

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